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Why only us? Well, who else is there to talk TO?

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Why Only Us From David Klinghoffer at Evolution News & Views :

In Chapter 10 of his new book Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis, Michael Denton argues for the proposition that language and the higher intellectual faculties — the gifts that uniquely make us human — arose by saltation. In other words, they are gifts — sudden ones. Denton’s view, as he makes clear, has precedents reaching from Alfred Russel Wallace to linguist Noam Chomsky.

In a nice coincidence, Chomsky and MIT colleague Robert C. Berwick are just out with a book of their own, from MIT Press, provocatively titled Why Only Us: Language and Evolution. To be sure, Chomsky and Berwick are not advocates of Denton’s structuralist take on the theory of intelligent design. Still, their own argument for language by saltation is not hard to reconcile with Denton’s view.

The recognition that language poses a problem for Darwinian gradualism is presumably what makes linguist Vyvyan Evans uneasy about the book, which Dr. Evans reviews in New Scientist: More.

Klinghoffer details the problems Evans faces trying to balance a red-hot issue. On the one hand, humans are just big-brained apes; on the other hand, efforts to describe ape communications as equivalent to those of humans are pathetic, and any serious research would require acknowledging that fact.

See also: Can we talk? Language as the business end of consciousness

and

Furry, feathery, and finny animals speak their minds

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6 Replies to “Why only us? Well, who else is there to talk TO?

  1. 1
    Zachriel says:

    News: Why only us?

    Keep in mind that there have been several Homo species, but all have gone extinct — except one. No one knows the extent of language in these other species, but more than likely, they had some ability to communicate.

  2. 2
    News says:

    As I’ve been noting at previous posts, it’s actually really hard to tell whether many of them WERE other “species,” the whole concept as it happens is currently an acknowledged mess. One none dare touch, because the discipline’s sacred scripture is called Origin of Species.

    “Origin of We Don’t Know What, Really” doesn’t have quite the same cachet.

  3. 3
    goodusername says:

    One none dare touch, because the discipline’s sacred scripture is called Origin of Species.

    In what way should the subject be “touched” that is hasn’t been in the past several centuries?

  4. 4
    Mung says:

    Zachriel, bacteria have some ability to communicate.

  5. 5
    Robert Byers says:

    This Chomsky is someone who stresses grammer is too complicated to nave evolved. So he is opposed to the grunts-to-grammer majority in these small circles who study it.

    Adam spoke right away. So grammer is not genetic.
    since language is only using sounds then why not gramer is just another memory organized thing to use sounds.
    its not genetic but simply the memory is very powerful

    Its only us because only us are intelligent that much.
    our private thoughts come first. language just repeats them. We speak in our head even if we had no language.
    So grammer and the rest are just from this. Its the intelligence of man that came first. not language evolving alongside intelligence.
    Man was always intelligent and so always had inner language and so outer language. Adam within hours developed his language. Not minutes however.

    YES evolutiondom has trouble explaining language from a dumb chimp.
    Hard to believe some lineage of dumb chimp started preliminary language skills and taught it to the kids while sitting on a branch.
    YEAH maybe they should look for genes explosions in smarts and so language or rather talking to oneself in the head.

    .

  6. 6
    Zachriel says:

    News: As I’ve been noting at previous posts, it’s actually really hard to tell whether many of them WERE other “species,” the whole concept as it happens is currently an acknowledged mess.

    While there is a place between the sea and the land, the intertidal zone, where it’s not clear which is sea and which is land, there are places which are definitely sea and other places which are definitely land.

    Just because the edges between species are fuzzy doesn’t mean that some populations are not clearly distinct species. Homo erectus is not the same species as Homo sapiens.

    News: One none dare touch, because the discipline’s sacred scripture is called Origin of Species.

    Hardly. The species problem has been a significant matter of investigation in biology since before Darwin. You might read Wilkins’ book on the subject for an overview.

    Wilkins, Species: A History of the Idea, University of California Press 2009.

    Mung: bacteria have some ability to communicate.

    Good example, though the original post is probably referring to abstract verbal communications.

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